A Case Study Approach to Ethics in Career Development, Second Edition

Book Review by Jacqueline Gabbard Belle

Makela, J. P., & Perlus, J. G. (2017). A case study approach to ethics in career development (2nd edition). Broken Arrow, OK: National Career Development Association. (114 pgs).


Authors Julia Makela and Jessamyn Perlus make it clear from the beginning that this monograph on ethics will not provide definitive answers or solutions to ethical challenges that career practitioners may face in their line of work. Instead, they invite readers on a “journey of reflection and discovery” and emphasize the importance of ethical decision making as a collaborative process that requires transparency, consultation, and relevant policies and guidelines.  



The monograph includes the following sections: acknowledgements, foreword, preface, six chapters of content, an appendix, index, and author information. The foreword explains the updates provided in the second edition of the monograph. In this edition, all new case studies have been included to explore recent and relevant ethical issues in the career development profession. An examination of current guidelines, including the 2015 NCDA Code of Ethics, is offered to enhance ethical decision making and related discussions.



This monograph serves as a resource for learning, reflection, and collaboration in an effort to help career practitioners prepare for potential problems and questions related to various ethical dilemmas. The intended audience includes career development professionals at all levels and settings. As noted by Makela and Perlus, the 2015 NCDA Code of Ethics underwent major updates in the areas of technology, online career services, and social media guidelines. The case studies provided in this book reflect those changes and include new scenarios, ethical issues, and current resources that are available for career practitioners. The primary goals of the monograph are to

  • take a proactive approach to ethical issues,
  • recognize the unavoidable nature and need to prepare for ethical dilemmas,
  • explore the application of ethical decision-making strategies and resources found within ethical codes and standards,
  • engage participants in the process of analyzing and coming up with potential solutions for ethical problems,
  • encourage action beyond reading, and
  • to ultimately enhance practitioner skills and experience related to addressing ethical issues.

Makela and Perlus encourage readers to explore their own values, enhance ethical sensitivities, consider multiple perspectives, utilize a variety of resources, and actively promote ethical behavior, training, and education.


The first chapter provides an overview of the topics that are covered in the monograph, including a positive ethics approach to the work of career practitioners, ethical foundations, sources of ethical issues, and a summary of the guiding principles that are built into most professional codes of ethics. The basic six principles that guide helping professions are stated and explained:

  1. nonmaleficence,
  2. beneficence,
  3. respect for autonomy,
  4. justice,
  5. fidelity, and
  6. veracity.


Chapter two covers some of the recommended resources and strategies for handling ethical dilemmas. Makela and Perlus offer an insightful overview of ethical codes provided by licensure boards, professional associations, and certification organizations. This helps the reader to understand common components of ethical decision-making models:

  1. Identify and define the problem
  2. Consider foundational ethical issues involved
  3. Tune in to feelings
  4. Consult the code of ethics
  5. Seek appropriate consultation
  6. Identify desired outcomes
  7. Consider possible outcomes and their consequences
  8. Select and implement an action
  9. Document the process and reflect on the outcome.
  10. Self-test questions are offered to assist practitioners in deciding whether they have successfully addressed an ethical situation.


Chapter three reviews the history of the NCDA Code of Ethics, major components and provisions of the code, and additional resources provided by NCDA related to ethics in career development. Chapter four explores other professional standards and codes of ethics that could impact career practitioners working in different settings. This chapter includes a helpful comparison of the codes and standards created by other professional associations, such as the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). Updated case scenarios are presented in chapter five, and they reflect real-world situations involving career practitioners that encounter ethical dilemmas. The authors review how the dilemmas were addressed using common components of ethical decision-making models. In the final chapter, “next steps” are presented to help readers incorporate ethical principles and related discussions into daily practice. This chapter includes training resources.



The second edition of Makela and Perlus’ monograph is a much needed addition to the current resources available on ethics in the field of career development. It is practitioner-friendly and designed to enhance skills and competencies related to addressing ethical dilemmas for professionals at all levels. The monograph could easily be used as a training resource for incoming career counselors, professional development meetings, graduate-level courses on ethics, and to help future counselors prepare for professional examinations, which usually include a section on ethics. New case studies and additional information concerning the use of standards and codes of ethics in practice make this often complex topic more relatable, and encourages ongoing discussion and collaboration among colleagues and supervisors.


Purchasing Information

The monograph is available for purchase through the NCDA Career Resource Store in both print and e-book format.


NCDA Resources 

The National Career Development Association has maintained a code of ethics since 1987, and it has been revised multiple times throughout its history. The full 2015 version has been incorporated in the appendix of the monograph. In addition, NCDA has an ethics committee that provides services and resources for career development professionals. Some examples include the quarterly “Ethics in a Nutshell” articles written in Career Developments magazine, sample forms under “Members-Only Resources” on the NCDA website, and ethics skill building sessions offered at the annual NCDA Career Development conference.



Reviewer Bio:


Jacqueline BelleJacqueline Gabbard Belle, MS, EdS, NCC, is an Assistant Director of Career Advising and Counseling at The Florida State University (FSU) Career Center. In her current role, she provides career advising and counseling services in the career center, supervises graduate student trainees, and teaches an undergraduate career development course. Email jbelle@fsu.edu

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